Optimistic pensioners insist that life begins at eighty. Anyone watching this film will be glad it doesn’t.
Benjamin Button, played skilfully by Brad Pitt, is born a baby with a wrinkly, aged face. Rejected by his father (his mother dies in childbirth), he is left on the doorstep of an old people’s home. He soon grows into an old man, and this 190-minute fictitious biopic drags through a human ageing process in reverse.
It’s all very sad – he can’t be a father to his daughter because he’ll soon end up younger than she is, and he only has a limited time with Daisy (Cate Blanchett), the love of his life. He’s also denied his usual stages of development. While, mentally, he’s a child, his body is that of an arthritic old man, so when he hides under the bed with the child Daisy, it looks slightly dodgy. By the time he should be enjoying the agility of childhood, he has dementia.
There are inconsistencies. Benjamin begins life as a baby, albeit with the diseases and ugliness of old age – shouldn’t he have died the size and shape of an old man instead of shrinking back into a baby? It would have taken a lot of explaining to have him pop out of his mother fully grown, but it didn’t seem logical to me, if any of this is meant to be logical.
More remarkable, no scientist pounces on him for research. He may have been born in 1918 without a probing media, but by the time he hit the second half of the twentieth century, it would have been standard for society to pester him for the rest of his life. The people in this film accept his condition, no questions asked.
The acting is of a high standard, although the chemistry between the two leads doesn’t come through. The lighting and sound are poor, not helped by the New Orleans accents, which tailed off submissively at the end of sentences. VP